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10 Unpopular Bills That We'll Be Seeing Again Next Year

December 30, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

With the new session of Congress quickly approaching, here’s a look back at the most-opposed bills of the previous session that are likely to be introduced again next year. These are the bills with the most “no” votes among OpenCongress users, as tracked by our Battle Royale, that didn’t become law in the past session. It’s by no means a complete picture of political sentiments across the country, but it gives us a unique view into what specific proposals from Congress have gotten people concerned and engaged over the past two years.

1) H.R.45 – Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 (15,853 NO votes)

This bill has no co-sponsors and hasn’t moved an inch in the committee process, but it has been a major bogeyman among the Obama-is-going-to-steal-your-guns crowd. The bill would establish a nationwide system for prohibiting unlicensed gun-ownership. Under the bill, gun owners would be required to apply for five-year licenses to own firearms and all sales and transfers of firearms would be tracked by a federal record of sale system administered by the U.S. Attorney General. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bobby Rush [D, IL-1], introduced the bill in the last two sessions of Congress and will likely introduce it again in the 112th.

2) H.R.2454 – American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (4,822 NO votes)

This is the cap-and-trade climate bill that was passed by the House in 2009 but never saw any action in the Senate. The Democrats have been trying since 2007 to pass a climate change bill, but, even with a 60-seat Senate majority, they haven’t been able to get it through. Something along these lines may be introduced again next year, but with the enhanced Republican presence in both chambers it won’t go anywhere if it looks too much like this bill. Meanwhile, the EPA is using their regulatory authority to develop new rules limiting carbon emissions at power plants and refineries.

3) H.J.Res.5 – Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President. (4,372 NO votes)

This is one of those pet bills that is introduced year after year even though it never gets gets new supporters or moves any closer to becoming law. It would amend the Constitution by removing the current two-term limit on how long Presidents can serve. As we explained on this blog in June of ‘09, similar bills have been introduced going back all the way to the George H.W. Bush Presidency and the 101st Congress, and, although this sessions’ version is sponsored by Rep. José Serrano [D, NY-16], it was originally proposed by Republicans. Contrary to the countless news and blog articles claiming this is evidence of a Democratic conspiracy to make Obama President for life, this has historically been a non-partisan small-d democratic proposal based on the principle that elections should be the only deciding factor for choosing elected officials.

4) S.773 – Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (2,634 NO votes)

Of all the bills on this list, this one has the best chance of getting serious attention in the next session. It’s a compressive bill designed to stream-line the cybersecurity effort through all levels of government and address U.S. vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. It includes several provisions that are considered very controversial, including a federal clearinghouse of information relating to private infrastructure deemed “critical” by the President, and new authority for the President to declare a “cyber emergency” and restrict access to parts of the internet. It is sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D, WV] and Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME].

5) S.373 – A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to include constrictor snakes of the species Python genera as an injurious animal. (1,393 NO votes)

The Florida Everglades are being overrun with invasive python snakes. Apparently, python pet owners in Florida have been dropping their unwanted snakes of in the Everglades and the snakes are breeding and killing native snake species and baby alligators. Sen. Bill Nelson [D, FL] introduced this bill as a way to outlaw python ownership in the U.S., but python owners have done a good job fighting it, as is evidenced by its appearance on this list.

6) H.R.264 – Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2009 (1,033 NO votes)

During the Bush years, comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, was considered one of the big legislative issues that was truly bipartisan. In 2007, the Democratic 110th Congress tried for months to pass some version of this only to fail and help solidify the anti-immigration activist base. As a consequence nearly all of the Republicans who once supported such an approach to reforming the immigration system have backed off. Still, with immigration continuing to be perceived by many as a pressing problem, this bill, or something like it, will definitely be introduced again next year. Whether or not it is given floor action in either chamber is a whole other question.

7) S.560 – Employee Free Choice Act (843 NO votes)

Here’s a long-standing Democratic priority that the Democrats were hoping to get done with their 60-seat Senate majority, but couldn’t because of defections from the moderate end of their caucus. The bill would make it easier for employees to for unions by allowing unions to be certified once a majority of employees has signed authorization cards. Under current law, employees must hold a separate election on the questions even after a majority have signed the cards. This is organized labor’s number one legislative priority, so you can expect it to be introduced again and again until it passes. For now, with the Republicans taking a stronger hold on Congress next session, the bill is dead in the water.

8) S.729DREAM Act (788 NO votes)

This is a sort of sub-proposal of comprehensive immigration reform. It would establish a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants under the age of 29 who were brought to the U.S. by their parents before the age of 16 and have graduated high school or promise to serve in the military. Like the broader immigration reform bill, this one used to have bipartisan support, but over the past few years Republicans have backed away.

9) H.R.104 – To establish a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties. (784 NO votes)

This bill from outgoing Judiciary Chairman Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14] would establish a commission to investigate policies of the Bush Administration, which were carried out under the premise of “unreviewable war powers.” Despite having a Republican co-sponsor — Rep. Walter Jones [R, NC-3] — this bill is viewed by many as being too partisan too political.

10) H.R.257 – Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act of 2009 (697 NO votes)

This bill would raise the age of eligibility for handgun ownership from 18 to 21 and make it illegal for most people under 21 to own other kinds of firearms. It would also require gun owners in households with children to keep it in a place the child cannot access it. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee [D, TX-18] has been introducing this bill in every session of Congress since the 106th in 2000 and she will most likely continue introducing it in while she remains in office.

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